RECAP: JD Martinez Comes up Clutch with Two Homer Night as #RedSox Sweep Doubleheader in Baltimore.

After taking care of business against the Orioles in a 5-0 shutout win earlier Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox were back at it at Camden Yards later in the evening to wrap up the day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.

Hector Velazquez,who hadn’t started a game since July 11th while also making just three relief appearances since July 30th, got the nod in this one, and as some may have expected, did not go deep into Saturday night’s contest.

Pitching into the third inning, the right-hander had his fair share of ups and downs, as he sat down the first three batters he faced on 11 pitches, but proceeded to allow the next three Orioles he faced to reach in the second, which led to Baltimore tacking their first run of the night on a Renato Nunez RBI double.

In in his final frame of work, the Mexico native walked Jace Peterson to lead things off, then got Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to ground out to second and third base for the first two outs of the bottom half of the third. That is how Velazquez’s night would come to somewhat of a surprising end, all while he failed to record a single strikeout.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 41 (56% strikes), the 29-year-old certainly was not pressed in his 34th outing of the season, which makes sense when you consider that he will be returning to his role in the bullpen in the coming days.

Out of those 41 pitches thrown, Velazquez relied heavily on his sinker, changeup, and slider, as he went to those three pitches a total of 33 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, which he threw seven times, in the first inning.

In relief of Velazquez, Brandon Workman got the first call in what would be a very busy night for the Red Sox bullpen.

Workman, who was later optioned down to Triple A Pawtucket, officially closed the book on Velazquez’s night by giving up an RBI single to Trey Mancini that scored Jace Peterson, who drew a leadoff walk earlier in the inning, from second and make it a 2-0 game.

After walking the next two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Renato Nunez to load the bases, Workman escaped any further damage by getting rookie Cedric Mullins to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

Drew Pomeranz, making his second straight appearance as a reliever in as many days, settled things down a bit by tossing two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth and was in line for another winning decision with the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-2 lead while the left-hander was in the game.

Unfortunately, Heath Hembree, who has been struggling as of late, messed that up by surrendering the game-tying home run to Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard with two outs in the sixth, which could have been worse had Hembree not picked off Mullins on an attempted steal of second base while Rickard was at the plate.

Joe Kelly got the call for the seventh, and he worked his way around a one out single and two out walk for his first clean relief appearance since August 8th and fourth winning decision of 2018 to make way for William Cuevas in the eighth.

Cuevas, the 26th man on Saturday’s Red Sox roster for the doubleheader, made his first appearance with the big league club in over a month, and he too worked his way around multiple base runners in a scoreless frame of work.

Finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel continued to frustrate by serving up a solo shot to Trey Mancini that cut Boston’s lead down to two, but ultimately saw his team’s 84th win through to the end by notching his 34th save of the season and 100th save in a Red Sox uniform on a four pitch strikeout of Chris Davis.

All and all, Alex Cora turned to seven pitchers in total, and despite only recording four strikeouts and an unsightly eight walks, I would say things worked out for the better.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher they have already seen multiple times this year in Baltimore’s Yefry Ramirez

Ramirez, a right-hander in his rookie season, owned a career 5.79 ERA in two previous starts against Boston coming into Saturday, but he held his own in five innings pitched last night.

Without JD Martinez, the Red Sox more than likely would not have won this game, and he got the scoring started for his team in the fourth by blasting his first of two home runs to cut the Orioles lead in half at the time.

An inning later, Dan Butler, who was starting behind the plate in the night cap, drove in his first big league run since 2014 on a sac fly that scored Eduardo Nunez, who tripled to lead off the fifth, from third and tie things up at two runs a piece.

In the sixth, with Steve Pearce at third and Martinez at second, a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Cody Carroll on ball four of Rafael Devers’ third at bat of the night allowed Pearce to come in from third. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a one-run lead.

A lead that would not last long though, as Baltimore answered right back with a run of their own in their half of the sixth off of Heath Hembree to re-tie the game.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Mike Wright on the mound for the Orioles, and JD Martinez essentially put this contest to bed by coming through with a clutch two-run shot to left field.Β 410 feet off the bat for Martinez’s second big fly of the evening and league-leading 37th of the season.

To put this thing out of reach for good, Brock Holt provided some necessary insurance in the ninth on a two out RBI single that scored Mookie Betts from second and gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead they would not have to look back from to sweep the twin bill.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 84-35 on the season. They are also 13-2 against the Orioles.

JD Martinez drove in his 102nd, 103rd, and 104th RBI last night. In his eight-year career, the most runs he had driven in in a single season was 104 in 2017.

Craig Kimbrel has given up runs in five of his last six appearances. That is actually bad.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep in Baltimore later this afternoon. Guess who is getting the start for Boston?

That’s right. Chris Sale is BACK from the 10-day disabled list after missing nearly two weeks with left shoulder inflammation as he gets the nod in the Sunday finale.

As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Workman to Pawtucket will be the corresponding roster move.

Backed up by a career 2.18 ERA in ten games (seven starts) at Oriole Park, Sale will be facing off against another lefty in Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.

Although he may not be having the greatest of seasons (5.55 ERA in 21 GS), Cobb, a Boston native himself, has seen plenty from the Red Sox over his seven-year career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

In two starts against them in 2018, Cobb has surrendered a total of 11 runs on 20 hits in ten innings pitched.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.

 

 

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RECAP: Four Home Runs Not Enough as Drew Pomeranz Disappoints in Return to #RedSox Rotation.

For the first time since May 31st, Drew Pomeranz started a big league game last night, and surprise, surprise, he was not very good. Yes, he deserves the benefit of the doubt and maybe multiple chances to prove himself again, but it’s understandable why Pomeranz is not exactly a fan favorite.

I mean, he has brought almost nothing to the table this season and looks like he does not want to be out there. But, given the fact Eduardo Rodriguez is on the shelf for the forseeable future, nothing much will change. The good news here, if any, is that once the postseason begins, Pomeranz shouldn’t even be considered to be part of the starting rotation. Watch, now he’ll pitch like he did for most of last season and I’ll look like an idiot.

Anyway, on another rainy night in Baltimore, Drew Pomeranz made his return from the 10-day disabled list to make his ninth start of the season on Tuesday night. While rehabbing from his left bicep injury, Pomeranz made six starts between Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. In those six outings, the lefty posted a 5.04 ERA in 25 innings pitched, but held the opposition to one run on one hit and two walks in his last start against the Charlotte Knights on July 18th.

So, that appeared to give the signal that Pomeranz was ready to rejoin the Red Sox rotation. Alex Cora mentioned how the return of Pomeranz could be somewhat like a trade pickup for the club, and he had a great opportunity to get his feet wet against a team as bad as the Orioles.

Unfortunately, that is not how things worked out, because in less than five innings, Pomeranz got hit decently hard.

In those 4.2 innings pitched, Baltimore got to the Tennessee native for four runs on six hits, including two home runs, while drawing two walks and fanning four times.

The first crucial mistake Pomeranz made came in the third, when with one out and a runner on, the lefty seemingly missed his location on a 0-0 78 MPH knuckle curve and O’s second baseman Jonathan Schoop sent it 414 feet into the left field seats for his second long ball in as many days to give his team an early 2-1 lead.

The second crucial mistake for Pomeranz came in a similar spot later on in the bottom half of the fifth. After walking the leadoff hitter, who also happened to be Baltimore’s number nine hitter in Caleb Joseph, the 29 year-old hurler served up another two-run homer, this one coming off the bat of the other Orioles middle infielder Tim Beckham. This coming a half inning after the Red Sox had just battled back to take a 3-2 lead. Not a great look.

Pomeranz would be unable to finish the frame, as Tyler Thornburg came in and struck out the only batter he faced.

Finishing with 89 pitches, 56 of which went for strikes, Pomeranz relied on his knuckle-curveball 51% of the time on Tuesday and topped out at 89.9 MPH with his four-seamer on his 26th pitch of the game. According to Statcast, the three hardest hit balls last night had exit velocities of 108, 107.7, and 106.9 MPH. They all came off of Pomeranz.

Falling to 1-4 on the season with an ugly 6.91 ERA, Pomeranz will look to rebound in his next time out, which could come against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

As I had previously mentioned, Tyler Thornburg got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth and retired the lone batter he faced.

A struggling Joe Kelly was next out of the ‘pen for the sixth, and by the time the inning had concluded, the Orioles had added three runs to their lead to essentially put this game out of reach for the Red Sox. Since the beginning of June, Kelly owns a 9.98 ERA and .920 OPS against in 20 appearances. That’s a problem.

From the middle of the seventh inning on, Hector Velazquez wrapped up a pretty miserable day for Red Sox pitching on a more positive note, as he held the Orioles scoreless in the two frames he tossed to lower his ERA to a solid 2.50 on the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher for Baltimore who actually made his big league debut against Boston back on June 13th.

Yefry Ramirez, 24, gave up three runs in less than five innings pitched then, and it was a very similar outing for him last night.

JD Martinez got the scoring started right away in the first, as he launched his first of two home runs on the night to put the Red Sox up early.

Fast forward to the fifth with the team trailing by a run, Blake Swihart came through with is first Major League home run in nearly three seasons to tie this thing back up at two runs a piece.

One batter later, Mookie Betts took issue with Ramirez throwing 92 MPH heat up near his head. Although it was more than likely unintentional, Betts made the Orioles rookie pay by mashing his 24th big fly of the season on the very next pitch he saw.

Back-to-back solo homers to retake the lead had me feeling pretty confident to be honest, but Drew Pomeranz let that slip away a few minutes later.

Trailing by four runs heading into the eighth inning, JD Martinez put a dent into that deficit, as he blasted his second home run of the night and 31st of the season, a two-run shot, to retake the Major League lead in that category and make it a 7-5 game.

With one last chance to do something in the ninth, the news that Orioles closer Zach Britton had been traded to the New York Yankees was certainly a blow, but it was also assuring knowing that he would not be available to close this game out for Baltimore.

Facing off against new Orioles closer Brad Brach, Jackie Bradley Jr. led things off with an infield single that essentially turned into a double thanks to some sloppy glove work from Tim Beckham.

After Brock Holt pinch hit for Eduardo Nunez and advanced Bradley from third with one out, Rafael Devers cut the Red Sox deficit to one by collecting his 50th RBI of the season on an infield single. 7-6 game.

Mookie Betts was up next with the chance to complete the comeback, but unexpectedly grounded into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play. Surprising, considering how much damage Betts has done at Camden Yards in his career. With the Yankees winning their game against the Tampa Bay Rays last night, the lead in the AL East currently stands at five games for Boston.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes:Β J.D. Martinez is the 10th player to hit 30+ HR in his first season with the Red Sox, the first since David Ortiz did it in 2003.

In 35 career games at Camden Yards, Mookie Betts is slashing .296/.383/.606 with 13 HR and 28 RBI.

Per FanGraphs, 48% of the 31 home runs JD Martinez has hit this season have been hit to the opposite field.

Going for the series win tonight before heading home, David Price gets the ball for the Red Sox in what will be his 21st start of the season. Going up against him is the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, who has started three times against Boston in 2018 and owns a 2.29 ERA in those starts.

First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.